It’s becoming a tradition that during her school holidays, Bubba Chuck visits me in the city for lunch. In doing so, Bubba Chuck has a cute, but unrealistic, view of the working life – that it’s about deciding what outfit to wear the night before, a hot chocolate when you get into the office, a nice lunch, a quick raid in my desk drawers for chocolate before heading own home before peak hour traffic.
For lunch, I suggested that we go to the Shophouse Kitchen in QV. I had noticed that it opened recently and it seemed quite popular with the lunch crowd.
Getting there early (before 12pm), there were already a few tables of diners. I liken SK as a more schmick version of the standard China Bars.
As with both places, there is a roast duck/bbq meat counter and a fairly extensive menu. But the decor inside SK is newer and a bit more fancier with the details, which includes mah-jong tiles decorating the tables, Chinese newspapers as wall paper and a video projector on a feature wall.
We all chose different dishes. However, of the three of us, it was clear that Beaker got the best dish, while Bubba Chuck and my dishes were rather ho-hum.
Beaker got one of the signature dishes – fried pork chop set lunch. Two pork chops on the bone with a salty glaze and lovely grill marks. It came with a fried egg, a nice mound of stir fried veg and a big bowl of rice. Beaker was pretty happy with her choice.
Bubba Chuck on the Chiew Chou fish ball noodle soup. She seemed a bit indifferent to noodles and didn’t wolf it down, which is what she does when she really likes something. Beaker and I tried some of the noodles and, boy, talk about MSG! I took one spoonful of noodles and a fish ball, and it was enough for me. There wasn’t anything really special or interesting about this dish – just rice noodles, fish balls/cake, some baby buk choy and beanshoots. It was really something you can cook yourself at home and it’d taste better.
I got the least tasty and impressive dish – stir fried beef w tomatoes and scrambled egg. This dish is real comfort food – and Mother Hen does the best version at home. The SK version looked good but failed. Getting the balance of flavours in the gravy is key. It’s meant to be aromatically sweet (from the tomatoes and maybe a little added sugar if the toms aren’t the ripest) and have an appetite-inducing tartness from the white vinegar. This was just sickly sweet and with the heavy handed use of cornstarch, the gravy was a bit gloopy.
Disappointingly, the beef (which should be nice tender strips) was as tough as leather and had lots of sinewy bits. I don’t have anything against eating cheaper cuts of meat as long as they’ve been prepared/cooked accordingly. There wasn’t much scrambled egg or fresh tomato....sigh. Needless to say, I didn’t finish this off. Beaker tried a bit and wasn’t impressed with it either.
Food – 6
Ambiance – 7
Service – 6.5
Price – 7
As two of the three dishes weren’t that great, SK was disappointing. The only redeeming point about the food was Beaker’s pork chop.
Service was okay. But when the staff greet you, give you the menus, take your order, etc, they give off this vibe as if they’re not really sure of what they’re doing.
I like the set up and the location. However, I’m of two minds about going back to SK. I can live with the service, and the prices are reasonable. If I didn’t have other (many) options nearby, I’d go back.... but because there are options, I don’t think I’ll be coming back.
Telephone: 9639 6663